Extension for the Boston Public library in Charlestown (MA), designed by Eduardo Catalano in 1970. The proposal hollows out the interior of the existing library and imagines an abundance of tight spaces on the other face of the street.
While in a conventional diptych, the conversation happens in difference of readings, we imagine the reading of our addition to be never be read as a double. There is no difference because everything is different. It serves rather as a counterpoint, as a unit of measurement for the Catalano building.
Catalano’s public library is a shell that stands on a four pins. It’s base, is a solid plinth, which serves as a virtually inexhaustible horizontal datum. This plinth and the concrete shell above sit on a sloped site but resist any urge to address this ground. We recognized early on that the interior space goes against the grain of the one-room intention of Catalano - the formal movement in the North south direction, which makes this a conceptually open project and virtually extendible is undercut by its own interior layout.
Our work further problematizes the qualities found in Kahn’s Motherhouse or Stirling’s Wissenschaftzentrum in a compressed space. We put pressure on the program as well as the residue. We achieve the quantitative doubling, although by not explicitly making the doubling look like one. The library shifts its character now, by expanding into a small neighborhood resource of books.
Turtles all the way down
Built winning entry
In Spring 2023, we were selected to design and fabricate an installation under the newly constructed Kenzo Tange Pavilion at Harvard GSD. The pavilion architects, OFFICE KGDVS, claim their structure is a “1:1 scale model”. Our installation initiates a series of scalar regressions creating nested models within models. These structures serendipitously come into contact with the social space at each scale and become potentially usable, oscillating between roles representing the "actual” structure and its quotidian use as furniture.
By multiplying the pavilion the models of the model, lower the horizon line of the beam, temporarily allowing visitors to associate, examine and discuss the pavilion. They also generate a center point within the open urban field of the pavilion. Each model deals with its own material constraints, only to be masked by the white paint, gold foil, and the printed, inverted American Flag.
”I must have a wall behind me.” - Mies
This project considers the courtyard formed by the L-shaped plan of Haus Lemke as its subject. In a dialectical relation with the glazed facades of the house, the two walls start to gain their own identity as a formal and visual marker at the end of the court.
With its extremely thin faux marble edge reveal the walls act as an image for the house. The wood backing reveals the construction logic of the wall. Glass from the electronic waste is recycled to produce these sustainable tiles which by virtue of their iron oxide content reveal a green pattern mimicking the ornamental marble patterns of the Barcelona pavilion.
In the Haus Lemke foyer, the extension first appears. It aids in setting up distinctly the fourth quadrant of the house. The foyer understood as inducing a pinwheel due to its surrounding asymmetrical partitions, now becomes the only space inside the house that perceives this quadrant. In so doing, it stabilizes the space of arrival by providing an enclosure to this quote unquote missing wing of the pinwheel. The walls conceptually finish the courtyard space and in doing so strip the reading of the house as this autonomous object - the house now put into the larger matrix in relation with the garden, starts to question itself in relation to nature. With the addition of the wall and the subtraction of the Foerster paving paths, the court and the garden come again into the dialogue with the house, completing the conceptual schema that Mies had proposed.
“It is incomplete in all these states, it is not something yet, and precisely because the usable furniture is now nothing, instead of something, it evokes fervent interest. Like Michelangelo’s non-finito sculptures – the incomplete resolution of this furniture allows it to mentally completed – it is Lacan’s Objet petit a – an object that completes a desire, precisely because of its incompleteness. The figure, still maintains its identity as a furniture, although useless, it imagines a moment within an endless series of rigid contortions. The movement, although doesn’t move to the absurd – it is still bound by gravity.”
“One thinks of Louis Kahn’s Fisher house where the corner window dissolves and involutes to generate a space within the house. The fetishization of such involution, while still maintaining its tectonic nature, the hinge becomes an important device. All points stay connected, and individually rotatable. The figure, one can imagine, through its contortion, architecturalize any orthogonal space. Within a room, or as a room, it problematizes the space contained, thus beginning to generate architecture. Tatlin’s Corner Counter Relief comes to mind as the figure simultaneously needs the corner and is contorted by it. The object here, needs the architectural space.”
The Order of Play
A playground for the town of El Retiro in Colombia. The size of the site necessitates a strategy to induce play in less than conventional ways.
Play, we proposed, can only happen when the rules are set, once the boundaries are delineated. And once the order is placed, one must successively erase it to generate specific disorder.
The gradient grid allows the dispersion of play zones according to age group and lays the setting to create a virtual archaeological site. This order then gets obfuscated with the play of children shifting the sand around and the temporal dynamics of ecological succession.
“Through the conept of diptychs, doublings and complementarity, this exhibtion of the oeuvre of Machado and Silvetti proposed in the Druker Design Gallery at Harvard GSD tries to delineate the thematic concerns that the early work contends with.”
“The dialectics set up in these drawings and texts reveal the syntactical, formal and critical work of Machado Silvetti. These themes also represent the work that has been in conversation consciously or subconsciously in achitectural history and theory; it tries to get at, what Silvetti calls, in his seminal essay The Beauty of Shadows, criticism from within. “
“In his introduction to The Work of Machado Silvetti, Nader Tehrani speaks to this altered spatial perception, stating, “The construction of perspective is manipualated such that it denaturalizes not only how we draw, but how we build subjectiity... Perspective is adopted as an artifice to overturn reality as we know it.” Concord House reevaluates the context and views to form a relationship to the landscape which can only be formed through the means of architecture. Architecture, intervenes and carves out a chunk of reality to form an opinion and hierarchy of views. This is what Hays called the ‘...”indexical” reproduction and refunctioning of contextual attrubutes - a casual or spatial tranfer from the real - and the revealing of the enunciative level of infrastructural systems.’
“This theme that contrasts the modern open, horizontal ‘view’ of the landscape, makes evident the effort of Machado Silvetti to create curated archihtectural experiences in which the subject of representation interacts with the subject of enunciation.”